Salutatorian Carina Robles embraces interdisciplinary opportunities as a transfer student
COMMENCEMENT: Graduating with a degree in political science and a minor in dance, Robles will be heading to Taiwan as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
Carina Robles was raised with the fight on spirit. Not only is her grandfather a Half Century Trojan, having graduated in the 1960s, but Robles as someone born and raised in Southern California knew from an early age how big of an impact USC has had on the Los Angeles area and beyond. She also knew that to accomplish her personal goals she had to pursue her passions. Only one school fit the bill.
Now, shes graduating from her dream school as one of the salutatorians for the Class of 2023.
The entire USC community is so high achieving that Im just so humbled by this, said Robles, a political science major at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and a dance minor at the USC Kaufman School of Dance.
In addition to her bachelors degree, as a progressive degree student, Robles will also graduate with a Master of Studies in Law, a business law certificate and a compliance law certificate from the USC Gould School of Law.
Its one thing for your parents to tell you to be proud, but its another when the university recognizes you.
Carina Robles, USC salutatorian
Its one thing for your parents to tell you to be proud, but its another when the university recognizes you, she said.
Raised in Pasadena, Robles came to USC as a spring transfer student in 2020 from the California Institute of the Arts. She was only on campus eight weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campuses worldwide, but the first-year transfer student made those weeks count.
I came into USC knowing it was a Trojan Family because of my grandfather, but I also knew whatever I was going to do on campus, what I put into it was what I was going to get out, Robles said.
Robles immediately threw herself into activities around campus, including dance and film productions, as well as organizations such as USC Tommys Tours and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. The latter led her to the USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative workshop, a nonpartisan independent project supported by Google that helps protect campaigns and elections.
Thats what really sparked my passion for political science, Robles said. For the first time, I saw policies on paper and via Zoom turn into action with our legislatures really talking about how theyre implementing cybersecurity.
For USC salutatorian, true interdisciplinary experience
Performing arts especially dance were always a part of Robles life growing up. She knew she wanted to keep performing, but she didnt want to give up her newfound love of political science. Many schools would have made her choose between the two, but at USC, Robles didnt have to.
USC has so many options, Robles said. Theres such an emphasis on the interdisciplinary aspect of the different colleges that inspires you to really try everything.
She said USC Kaufman provided a well-rounded approach to the study of dance.
USC Kaufman was a really good bridge between the technique and the cultural expression that comes with dance, Robles said.
The dance minor also served as a nice contrast to her political science major. Robles said that the exercise and physical expression of dance was a refreshing break from the more traditional classroom setting of political science. Additionally, the self-expression and confidence she gained from dance translated to her work in the classroom.
Dance helped me learn how to step out of my comfort zone, Robles said. When I came into poli-sci classes, I was more confident in myself: I felt like I could ask questions, not feel afraid and really be confident in what I knew and what I didnt.
A Fulbright, Taiwan and the path ahead for USC salutatorian
After commencement, Robles will continue stepping out of her comfort zone when she begins her Fulbright Program in Taiwan this August. As someone who studied Mandarin at USC, shell be teaching English and leading a dance program abroad.
I feel like all these portions of my life are really coming together with this Fulbright.
Carina Robles, USC salutatorian
I feel like all these portions of my life are really coming together with this Fulbright, she said.
Until then, Robles said shes going to take a deep breath and reflect on her amazing years at USC.
Theres so much hustle and bustle when youre in it, that once I finally get to that commencement stage, theyve read my name and handed me my diploma, Ill need a moment to go, Wow, what just happened? Robles said with a laugh.
Looking back to when she first set foot on campus as a new transfer student, Robles said she might not have been able to predict exactly what path shed take, though knowing her own work ethic, shed believe the outcome.
I think my freshman self wouldve believed in me, Robles said. Im not sure I knew exactly what I was going to do though I knew I was going to do a lot but I like to make sure that I do a lot of things to my best potential. Not only quantity, but the quality of it has to be good.